Baby's skull was like a broken eggshell

By Lisa CleverdonA SKULL fractured like a “broken eggshell” could have contributed to the death of newborn baby Ruby Williams, an inquest heard.Her devastated father, Keith, wept as he recalled the “long and difficult” birth and the catalogue of complications that led to his baby daughter's death at West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, on March 16.

By Lisa Cleverdon

A SKULL fractured like a “broken eggshell” could have contributed to the death of newborn baby Ruby Williams, an inquest heard.

Her devastated father, Keith, wept as he recalled the “long and difficult” birth and the catalogue of complications that led to his baby daughter's death at West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, on March 16.

Mr Williams, 44, described seeing a doctor put her left foot on his wife Michelle's bed while using forceps to try to aid the birth and someone else using her right hand to push Ruby back up inside his wife.


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He added during an emotional statement at yesterday's inquest: “You will never know how it felt having to watch the lady pull my baby out. The forceps clashed together like a hammer clashing an anvil.

“When Ruby came out they all cheered and all the staff said 'Come and look at her, dad, she's beautiful'.

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“Michelle kept asking if she (Ruby) was all right. Then it went from elation to an eerie silence and the facial expressions said it all. Ruby was everything. From winning the lottery, it was all taken away.”

During the inquest in Bury St Edmunds yesterday, Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean heard Mr and Mrs Williams, of Farmery Road, Hundon, had gone to hospital on the morning of March 16 after she had started having contractions.

Later that night Mrs Williams was taken into theatre where doctors, following two failed attempts to use forceps, performed a caesarean section. Ruby was pronounced dead at just after 11pm.

An independent post-mortem examination carried out by Michael Ashworth, consultant pathologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, showed Ruby had died from perinatal asphyxia - a lack of oxygen during birth.

It also revealed evidence of blood on the membranes covering the skull and two fractures.

”In my opinion the cause of death was perinatal asphyxia, although it is impossible to say whether this was before, during, or after the birth,” said Mr Ashworth.

”It takes considerable force to fracture a skull. When there is force applied to the skull with forceps one would expect to find evidence of bruising on the face, but there was no evidence of this with Ruby. She had multiple small fractures, it was like an eggshell.”

Mr Ashworth accepted both the forceps and the action of pushing Ruby's head back into the birth canal could be equal possibilities in explaining the fractured skull, but said: “In itself the brain injury is not a sufficient cause of death.”

Dr Dean, who recorded a narrative verdict after hearing statements from eight witnesses, said: “These were injuries that may have contributed to the cause of death, but the main cause was severe perinatal asphyxia.

”This was clearly a difficult delivery that in itself could have been reason for perinatal asphyxia. Although the brain injuries were present, the exact part they played cannot be established.”

Speaking after the inquest on behalf of the family, solicitor Sandra Patton said: “It has been a devastating few months for the family.

“It (moving on) will be a very long process for them. They feel that had events proceeded differently they would have Ruby today, so I do not think the verdict will be a comfort to them in the circumstances.

”There are a number of matters that concern them surrounding the delivery, in particular the circumstances surrounding the skull damage, and these are things that will be looked into.

”No proceedings will bring Ruby back, but the family was grateful to be able to air some of their feelings in public.”

A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital said: “We offer our deepest and heartfelt sympathies for the parents and family of Ruby Williams. This is an extremely rare occurrence and we are deeply saddened.”

lisa.cleverdon@eadt.co.uk

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